Hello friends and Welcome to Money Monday
Remember last month when I told you that hubby couldn’t buy me a gift for my birthday? Well after checking his bank statement a few days earlier, he realized that there had been some fraudulent charges made against his account. Luckily, they weren’t excessive, but after contacting the bank his debit card was immediately suspended, oh by the way, there’s a charge for a replacement, which I think is unfair but that’s another story for another Money Monday.
Anywho, I’m glad that he had finally heeded my warning in making sure to check his statements as well as any credit card or medical bills that were received in the mail. There are so many ways for scammers to get you and it doesn’t just happen during the busy holiday season.
Scammers and fraudsters are ever vigilant, therefore, as wise consumers we must be the same, so here is a list of 12 tips to help you avoid fraud and keep the scammers at bay!
- Install a lockable mailbox to reduce mail theft.
Limit the number of credit cards you have.
Reconcile your check and credit card statements as soon as possible, and immediately challenge any purchases that you did not make.
Scrutinize your utility and subscription bills to make sure the charges are yours.
Keep a list of all your credit and bank accounts in a secure place so you can quickly call the issuers to inform them about missing or stolen cards. Or make a copy front and back of your cards with the numbers to customer service and fraud departments.
Do not toss pre-approved credit offers in your trash or recycling bin without first tearing them into small pieces or shredding them. Dumpster divers can use these offers to order credit cards in your name and mail them to their address. Always do the same with other sensitive information, such as credit card receipts and phone bills.
Avoid credit repair scams. If you are tempted to contact a credit repair company for help, use considerable caution. The FTC and a number of state attorney generals have sued credit repair companies for false promises to remove bad information from credit reports. Only inaccurate information may be removed from your credit report; negative information that is accurate (such as a bankruptcy filing or a defaulted loan) will stay on your credit report as long as governing laws allow.
- Never give any credit card, bank or Social Security information to anyone by telephone unless you can positively verify that the call is legitimate.
- Minimize exposure of your Social Security and credit card numbers. If the numbers are requested for check-cashing purposes, ask if the business has alternative options, such as a check-cashing card.
- Do not have your bank send your new checks to your home address. Tell the bank that you prefer to pick them up.
- Destroy all checks immediately after you close a checking account. Destroy or keep in a secure place any courtesy checks that your bank or credit card company sends to you.
- Do not allow your financial institution to print your Social Security Number on your personal checks. I remember when your social security numbers were not only printed on your checks but also on your driver’s license as well. Times sure have changed!
Have you ever been a victim of a scammer, whether online, via the telephone or mail, if so, then you know how difficult, time consuming and sometime costly it can be to get things back on track.
Check www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork if you are concerned about an organization that doesn’t sound legitimate and call 877-908-3360 which is the AARP Foundation Fraud Fighter Center.
Better Safe than Sorry!
Stay Blessed ~ No Stress in 2014!
Hello friends, Happy Money Monday
Several months ago I attended an AARP Seminar and one of the topics of discussion was collecting Social Security benefits. A few women in the audience were concerned because they believed that when the time came for them to collect Social Security, the system would be bankrupt.
The speaker tried to reassure them that that would not be the case, but one woman was not totally convinced.
So let’s debunk some of the other myths to make sure the sky is not falling.
Myth 1: Social Security payments are based on your last 5/10/15 years of work — False
Your Social Security payments are based on your lifetime average earnings. For retirement payments, SSA uses your best 35 years of work, indexed for inflation. (Fewer years are used for mid-career death or disability.)
You can get a Social Security estimate by signing up at ssa.gov/myaccount
Myth 2: You should postpone Social Security to get the most retirement income. —Maybe so, maybe no.
Taking your retirement payments later, up to age 70, gives you a higher monthly payment. But will you survive long enough to reap the benefit? Will you drain your savings while waiting for Social Security to start, short-changing your later years? If you withdraw from tax-deferred retirement accounts, will you pay more in taxes than you would if you drew Social Security instead?
Myth 3: You have to die for your family to get Social Security on your work record. —False
Your spouse and children (and yes, your former spouse) can be eligible for Social Security, even while you’re alive. Make sure to take family benefits into account in your retirement planning.
By the way, it is true that your family can get Social Security if you die. Just don’t wait that long!
Myth 4: If you work and earn over $15,000 while on Social Security, your payments stop. – False
It’s true that there’s a threshold earnings level set every year; it’s $15,120 in 2013. What’s false is that if you earn anything over the threshold, your Social Security will stop.
First, the threshold applies only to those under Full Retirement Age (FRA, currently 66). Once you are over FRA, you can work all you want and still get full Social Security. You’d have to earn quite a bit, perhaps $30,000 to $50,000 to lose all your Social Security.
Finally, remember that only work income — wages or self-employment earnings — count against your Social Security. Pension, interest, dividends, capital gains, etc. don’t count.
Myth 5: Social Security is losing money/is broke. — False
Social Security is still running a surplus and banks the extra money they bring in each year, so their reserve funds are growing.
Counting all three revenue streams shows SSA running a surplus ($54 billion in 2012), and surpluses continuing until 2020.
What happens after 2020? SSA’s reserves provide full payments until 2033. After that, tax revenue alone will provide about 75% of needed funds. Yes, Congress will have to increase revenue and/or cut benefits before then to close the gap.
The bottom line is that you’ll make better retirement decisions with accurate information. Best wishes for an abundant retirement, and as always, keep on planning.
Information reposted from: www.marketwatch.com
Do you have questions regarding Social Security Benefits?
Stay Blessed ~ No Stress in 2014